#92 In Roads-Irish charm

Doing the tourist thing there’s a quaint little Celtic shop that’s run by an honest-to-goodness Irish woman with red hair and freckles. She kind of talks to the project she’s working on as we poke around the shop. It’s cool to listen to her strong Irish lilt, even though some of the words are hard to make out. We strike up a conversation about Irish names and she tells the reason so many of the immigrants lost the O’ from in front of their names generations ago.

“Trust me, 9 out of 10 times it’s because when they gave their names coming through Ellis Island, the people there didn’t understand what the Irish were telling them and they just wrote their names wrong. Instead of Thomas O’Malley, they were written as Thomas O. Malley. If they had read what was written they would have caught it but after three months on a ship at sea, nobody wanted to argue over paperwork, believe me,” she says with a laugh and a wave of her hand.

I ask how long she’s been in the U.S. and that prompts another giggle. “Well, I was on vacation in Europe when I met my husband. He wanted to get married about as much as I wanted to leave Ireland, but here we both are in South Dakota, 38 years later. I feel I’m very lucky, actually, to be in this exact spot. There’s a very thin veil over the area, near the Devil’s Tower and Bear Buttes, and I feel blessed to be here. I taught school for years and the kids would always tease me. “You’ve been here long enough, why haven’t you gotten rid of that accent?” I’d tell them that if you go to all the trouble to learn something in the first place, why would you want to get rid of it?”

I ask her name and she tells me Sharon. I ask if I can take her picture. Immediately she seems uncomfortable. Looking down, the smile falls from her face as she says sure, but warns that I’ll need a wide-angle lens. I tell her to knock that off, she’s beautiful just as she is and the giggle returns to her voice. Siaryn hands over her business card and tells me that whatever I intend to do with her photo, I should probably at least know how to spell her name right. She wishes us happy travels. I bet she was a cool teacher.


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